The family behind the Sobeys grocery empire is donating $6.5 million to improve educational facilities and provide bursaries to future students facing barriers in Nova Scotia.
Several members of the Sobeys family gathered at the Nova Scotia Community College on the Dartmouth waterfront today to announce the hefty financial endowment that will go to students at all 13 of its campuses.
The college says the donation is the largest charitable contribution in its more than 20-year history and will improve access to education for students by removing financial barriers.
A $4-million gift from the Donald R. Sobey Foundation will be used to recruit people who may have difficulty accessing a post-secondary education, while $500,000 from Frank, Heather, Karl and Ann Sobey will be given to students in financial need at the Marconi and Pictou campuses.
The family says once the endowment fund is fully implemented, more than 80 bursaries worth $2,000 each will be given to individuals referred to the college by community agencies every year.
Another $2 million from the Sobey Foundation will go toward improving the college's food services education and refurbishing Sobeys Culinary Centres at six campuses, while financing bursaries for students studying culinary arts.
It's an opportunity Donald Sobey said his own father, Frank, would likely have taken advantage of if there had been a similar college in place when he was growing up.
He said his dad did not have a post-secondary degree and may have ended his schooling at about Grade 8 before going to work in his father's grocery store.
But Donald Sobey said Frank took night classes in New Glasgow near the family home, where he learned invaluable skills like rapid addition and percentages.
"He said it was one of the best things he ever did," he said. "My father had a great respect for education...and he never stopped learning."